Local youth spread messages of unity at Westchester Kids’ March for Equality

Story by Kyle Knoll | Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner

Young activists marched along Sepulveda Boulevard in support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy

“Two, four, six, eight, love makes America great!”

On Monday morning, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, under a deep blue and blustery Westchester sky, more than 150 parents and children stretched out along the Sepulveda Boulevard sidewalk between Manchester Avenue and La Tijera Boulevard to raise both their voices and their handwritten protest signs to demand one thing: equality.

“It is important to give kids a voice and give them a chance to express their support for equality,” said Jenny Hontz, communications director for Speak Up, an education advocacy group for parents, who attended the march with her son, Max. “I hope that this tells him that he has a voice and that he should always speak up for what he thinks is right.”

“We haven’t had this kind of civic engagement in Westchester before,” said Haan-Fawn Chau, one of the main organizers of the Westchester / LAX Coastal Kids’ March for Equality. “It’s important to be engaged in the community and make your voice heard,” she continued, adding that increasing community engagement and trying to treat people with kindness were the main lessons she hoped her sons would take away from the event.

While organizers made an effort to keep protest signs and chants positive and non-partisan — going so far as to post a list of ideas for chants like “Choose love, not hate” and “We’re all different, and we’re all equal” — a number of anti-Trump administration and politically tinged messages were visible at the march, including the slogans “No Trump, No Guns,” “Kids Lives Matter” and “Shoot Kisses, Not Bullets.”

“We wanted to give kids an opportunity to have their own voice,” said Crista Copp, director of academic technology at Loyola Marymount University. She attended the march with husband Dan Olsen and their daughter Evie, who had decided to scooter along with the march instead of walk. “My mom drew it and I colored it,” Evie said in reference to the “Love will win!” sign affixed to the front of her hot pink scooter with streamers falling out from the handlebars.

“Right now in Los Angeles there seems to be so much controversy and division … but this is something we can all rally around and celebrate,” said Venice resident Courtney Paulson, who marched with her sons Val, 9, and Lee, 7. “I want my kids to know that we’re actually celebrating a wonderful person on this day and not just getting the day off school.”

Argonaut intern Tygre Patchell-Evans contributed to this story.